Since 2009, 40 Staten Island pedestrians have been fatally struck by a motor vehicle, including 8 fatalities within 2014, according to a recent Staten Island Advance article. Of the 8 fatalities, only 2 of the drivers responsible for these strikes have faced criminal charges for the wrongful death of their victims. This includes one victim of a drunk driver and another victim of a man who was driving without a license and with heroin in his vehicle. Our office is proud to represent the families of 2 of the victims as they pursue claims for wrongful death.
The most recent Staten Island victim of a fatal strike is 15 year-old Jenna Daniels who was struck down by a truck while she was crossing Bayview Avenue on Saturday, November 15. Although the driver of the truck that struck Ms. Daniels was cited for having tinted windows, he has not yet faced any criminal charges. Reportedly, the preliminary police investigation indicates instead that "pedestrian error" caused the accident, however, our office represents Ms. Daniels and this is a complete mischaracterization of the facts. The evidence we have uncovered has shown that the driver failed to see what there was to be seen and as a result is responsible for the wrongful death of Ms. Daniels.
As our investigation into this incident illustrates, in a tragedy such as this, it is important to remember that the police investigation is not the final determination of who is responsible for the accident. Bearing in mind that criminal conduct is much more difficult to prove than civil liability and, in civil cases, the concept of comparative negligence can hold a driver responsible for an accident even if the pedestrian is also partially at fault.
Indeed, criminal negligence requires a showing that a person failed to "perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk" of an accident and that such failure to perceive the risk "constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care" of a reasonable person. However, civil negligence in a car accident only requires a showing that the driver failed to "use the same degree of care that a reasonably prudent person would have used under the same circumstances."
Further, unlike in criminal law, a driver can be held comparatively negligent by allowing the jury to assign percentages of fault to each party. For example, if a driver is not looking ahead and strikes a pedestrian who forgot to look both ways before crossing the street, the jury may assign 80% of the blame to the driver and 20% to the pedestrian. In that instance, the jury will then determine how much the recovery ought to be for the pedestrian's injuries, and then reduce it 20%.
It is also important to remember that the Law Offices of Louis Grandelli will conduct an investigation that may come to a different conclusion than that of the police. The investigations by the New York Police Department are not always as thorough as they should be. Often times, we have uncovered evidence missed by the police that supported our client's claims.
As such, if someone you love is fatally struck or seriously injured in a car accident, it is important to contact an experienced plaintiff's attorney who knows how to conduct a thorough investigation. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Louis Grandelli have years of experience and have recovered millions on behalf of Staten Islanders who were injured or killed as a result of the negligence of other drivers. If you or someone you love has been the victim of a negligent driver, please do not hesitate to contact us.